Gettin' On

Gettin’ On examines topics of interest and importance to all members of the LGBT communities as we age. LGBT older adults have faced lifetimes of discrimination, stigmatization, marginalization, and criminalization. As a result, we face unique issues and challenges to aging successfully. Gettin’ On focuses on those issues and highlights resources and solutions that will help all members of the communities to age successfully at every age.


No matter our age, we have a vast array of needs that we must care for throughout our lives. Caring for our physical health, emotional wellness and social connections is an ongoing process that requires consistent attention.

Whenever I tell someone that older adults are one of the fastest-growing age groups living with a diagnosis of HIV or AIDS, I am met with a look of confusion or shock. I know it is tough to envision Grandma, or even Ma, finding partners and engaging in sexual behaviors, but guess what, folks: Our elders are still sexually active and are still susceptible to sexually transmitted infections! The AIDS Community Research Institute of America reports that 69 percent of LGBT older adults were sexually active within the last year.

What do you want your retirement to look like? For most, the answers to this question follow similar themes. We want time to relax and enjoy leisure activities. We want the opportunity to vacation in our favorite destinations and travel to new places around the globe. We want to cherish the time spent with family, friends and loved ones.

For the past four years, the delivery of aging services in Pennsylvania has been guided by a strategic-planning document published by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging in 2012. The 2012-16 State Plan on Aging, completed under the Corbett administration, laid out the goals, objectives and strategies for helping older Pennsylvanians access care, navigate services and age healthfully.

Every year on June 15, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day highlights the damage caused by the abuse, neglect and exploitation of older adults. Pennsylvania, it should be noted, has the fourth-largest population of seniors in the country. By 2020, about 3.3-million Pennsylvanians are expected to be over the age of 60. As this population increases, the abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of older adults is becoming a critical issue we cannot ignore.

Since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS crisis, the epidemic has had a direct and reciprocal link to substance use and addiction. While various efforts have helped to raise public awareness of the risk that intravenous drug use has in the contraction of HIV, less attention has been paid to the other ways that substance use impacts HIV-positive populations.  

You’re flat on your back on your doctor’s exam table, feet in the stirrups. Or talking with a potential or longtime lover, wondering how — or if — to bring up the subject of sex. In these situations, wouldn’t it be wonderful to know what to say, do or expect?

The year 2015 clearly saw tremendous advances for the LGBT community. From marriage equality to representation in politics and the media, the past 12 months have been a time of progress. While 2015 was undoubtedly an important year, events that will transpire in 2016 at the national, state and local levels may have an even greater impact on how LGBT older adults will be supported as they age.

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